Balancing academics, club meetings, and extracurriculars can be demanding for engineering students but make for impressive resumes that are likely to land them any internship they desire. However, having a strong resume doesn’t necessarily guarantee success at an internship. Though hard skills are crucial, computer science student Adya Parida discovered that it takes more than this to succeed in these roles. To make the most of your experience, Parida believes you’ve got to get in tune with the company culture and learn how to be a team player.
“It’s something that I think a lot of college students may not know unless they work in a professional setting,” she says. “At the workplace, there are certain norms, and an internship is the best way to learn about that.”
During the summer of 2023, Parida had her first corporate workplace experience as a technology intern at the Federal Reserve Bank. Before that, she conducted research projects on malware and anomaly detection in cybersecurity and also worked as a residential assistant on campus. Despite the differences between research projects and corporate work, Parida found the transition to be a refreshing change of pace and her expertise in data analytics and coding allowed her to seamlessly fit into her new role.
She worked in the information security department and focused on analyzing data using machine learning algorithms and often collaborated with other departments, such as the tech group, to share her findings. The market group would then use this information to make informed decisions, which showcased the company’s collaborative culture and how interconnected each department was.
At the Federal Reserve Bank, communication played a vital role in Parida’s experience. It was not only limited to the stand-up meetings with management, which involved assignments, updates, and check-ins. She also met with other interns for coffee chats or lunches and these interactions provided her with insights into how other departments functioned. Additionally, she was able to apply the workplace norms and professional etiquette she learned from Career Services, something she believes more college students should learn to grow in a professional setting.
“Hard skills are important but so are soft skills like communicating effectively with team members. It also helps you ask good questions when you’re facing difficulties on a project,” Parida said. “The team was more than happy to answer questions and help.”
By immersing herself into the workplace culture and getting to know the organization, the benefits the Federal Bank had to offer its interns and employees left a strong impression on Parida, especially the work-life balance. You weren’t expected to work more than 8 hours, which she says is unheard of in the finance industry.
“I’ve had roommates who used to work in private banks and would leave home at 6 am and come back past 9 pm. Those work hours are crazy” she says.
The company further prioritized the team’s well-being with a gym, basketball courts, and wellness center in the building to ensure the team was getting everything they needed and didn’t feel burnt out or stressed.
“Despite the fact that the Federal Reserve Bank is on Wall Street, and it’s a cutthroat industry, it’s such a great place to work, especially since it’s a mission-driven organization,” Parida says. “They don’t look at you as a profit-making machine like other companies do.”
The positive culture within the company was also reflected in the way leadership operated. Even interns had the opportunity to schedule appointments with management and executives, who were always willing to speak with them, despite their busy schedules. Parida was surprised to have the chance to speak with both the president and vice president of the company. Attending professional networking events for women and roundtable conferences further highlighted the company’s commitment to promoting inclusivity and creating a supportive environment for its employees.
“I was able to schedule an appointment with the vice president and talked in her office for an hour. That’s something I feel isn’t common in other companies,” Parida says. “This was a learning experience for me that taught me internships and jobs are more than being confined to your cubicle or keeping to yourself. It’s about connection and networking and I’m incredibly grateful for the time I spent at the Federal Reserve.”